By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 5 Review
The Tigers took two of three games on the road against Tennessee last weekend. Auburn won the first game, 3-2, behind a dominant performance from ace pitcher Casey Mize, who gave up three hits and struck out seven while allowing no earned runs in six innings. The Volunteers won the second game, 5-4, while the Tigers cruised to an 8-1 victory in the final game. Auburn improved to 28-11 overall and 10-5 in conference play. The Tigers host Arkansas in a pivotal SEC West Division matchup this weekend (April 21-23).
Alabama Week 5 Review
Alabama’s season-long struggles continued last weekend, as the Crimson Tide was swept by Texas A&M. The Aggies took the first game, 9-5, and their offense stayed hot in an 8-2 win in the nightcap. The final game of the series was much closer, but Texas A&M narrowly defeated Alabama, 3-2, for the sweep. UA fell to 15-22 overall and 2-13 in league play. Alabama travels to Starkville this weekend to take on Mississippi State.
SEC baseball rankings
1. Arkansas (30-8, 11-4)
2. Auburn (28-11, 10-5)
3. Kentucky (26-12, 10-5)
4. Mississippi State (25-14, 10-5)
5. LSU (25-12, 9-6)
6. Florida (25-12, 8-7)
7. South Carolina (23-13, 8-7)
8. Texas A&M (26-12, 8-7)
9. Ole Miss (22-14, 7-8)
10. Vanderbilt (22-15, 7-8)
11. Missouri (26-12, 7-8)
12. Tennessee (18-15, 4-11)
13. Georgia (15-22, 4-11)
14. Alabama (15-22, 2-13)
Week 6 preview and predictions
Series of the week – Arkansas at Auburn. The Razorbacks and Tigers enter this series as the top two teams in the SEC West and in the conference overall. Arkansas swept Georgia last weekend to move into first place overall in the conference, but Auburn can move into the top spot if it can win at least two games against the Hogs. The Tigers have been tough to beat at home this year, but this will be their most difficult series of the season. Series Prediction: Auburn 2, Arkansas 1.
Alabama at Mississippi State. Alabama’s woes in SEC play probably aren’t going away anytime soon. It’s transition year for the Crimson Tide, who are rebuilding in head coach Greg Goff’s first season. Alabama likely will miss the SEC Tournament unless it can string together a series of wins down the stretch of the regular season. Given how Alabama has played for the majority of the year, such a run seems unlikely. Series Prediction: Mississippi State 3, Alabama 0.
South Carolina at Florida. Florida and South Carolina have been two of the best teams in the conference over the last decade, and met in the College World Series finals in 2011. Neither team is as dominant this year as in the past, but they are both NCAA Tournament teams and have the potential to advance deep into the postseason. Series Prediction: Florida 2, South Carolina 1.
Tennessee at Texas A&M. Texas A&M’s sweep over Alabama put the Aggies in position to contend for the SEC West. They are still three games back but have the advantage of facing another SEC bottom feeder in Tennessee. The Volunteers are in jeopardy of missing the SEC Tournament, so they need at least one win this weekend. Series Prediction: Texas A&M 2, Tennessee 1.
LSU at Kentucky. This matchup features two of the best teams in the league and in the country. The Tigers took two games from Ole Miss last weekend and are two games back in the West Division. Kentucky won a series against Missouri to maintain its lead in the SEC East and has a two-game lead on Florida and South Carolina. Series Prediction: LSU 2, Kentucky 1.
Vanderbilt at Georgia. The Commodores lost a series to Florida last weekend, including a game in which they allowed 20 runs. Vandy is a tournament team and win a series over a struggling Georgia squad. But the Commodores have not been as dynamic this season as they have been the past few years and need their pitching and bullpen to improve if they want to make a postseason run. Series Prediction: Vanderbilt 3, Georgia 0.
Missouri at Ole Miss. Similar to Vanderbilt, Ole Miss is likely going to the NCAA Tournament. But the Rebels have not been among the best teams in the conference in recent weeks and were embarrassed by LSU, 15-2, in Baton Rouge last week. Missouri is vastly improved but this is a series that the Rebels cannot afford to lose. Series Prediction: Ole Miss 2, Missouri 1.